Wednesday, July 16, 2003

Saw another tattered American flag streaming from a passing car this morning. Looked like flag desecration to me. The irony is that I suspect most people driving around with flags on their cars probably favor the flag-burning amendment that recently passed the House and is on its way to the Senate. I wonder if they know that they could be exposing themselves to criminal prosecution if the amendment passes and Congress actually has to pass legislation to implement the thing.
Wouldn't tattered flags that expose a sacred symbol to public humiliation be banned under the statute? Would it be possible to write a statute that allows people to abuse the flag out of laziness or indifference but punishes them for abusing it out of a sincere, if misguided, opposition to this nation's policies? I would love to see the congressional debate that attempts to define desecration without examing the motives of the one who does the desecrating.

After the Federal Communications Commission allowed newspaper and TV station crossownership in the same city, it took only a few weeks for KTVQ to begin allowing The Billings Gazette to begin promoting tomorrow's headlines during Channel 2's 10 p.m. broadcast. It's not an ad: The plugs are inserted directly into the newscasts. Media moguls call it "convergence," the marketing flavor of the day, which postulates that all media are really the same and should cross-promote one another endlessly. The Gazette has been converging with Channel 2's weather "brand" for a couple of years.
Probably nobody involved read any of the FCC comments on crossownership. The comments emphasize the importance of having not just multiple but antagonistic media sources. That means different sources see the world in different ways, compete with one another and give readers/viewers meaningful choices.
I have another word for what KTVQ and the Gazette are doing, but I will save it for my unexpurgated memoirs.

Details about Mark Lemhouse's concert at the Beanery on July 22 arrived too late to make this week's Outpost. You can find them at

Also arriving too late was the schedule for public interviews of prospective city of Billings administrators. Here it is:
* July 22: D. Craig Whitehead, former city manager of Sioux City, Iowa.
* July 23: John F. Fischbach, city manager of Fort Collins, Colo.
* July 24: Kristoff T. Bauer, interim city manager for the city of Billings.
All meetings begin at 6:30 p.m. in the Council Chambers on the second floor of the police station, 220 N. 27th St. W. You can also watch the interviews on Cable Channel 8 or leave recorded comments at 237-6150.
Interesting, isn't it, how low below the radar this selection process has flown, especially after the intensely public, and politically inflammatory, search for a new school superintendent. Life must be good at City Hall.

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